In keeping with my commitment to write about the goddesses and their meanings as the wheel of this year turns and as we approach the first day of spring on March 20, we celebrate the Egyptian mother goddess, Isis. She was revered for over 3,000 years in Egypt, Rome, Greece and throughout the ancient world. With the revolution fomented in Egypt just last month and the removal of a 30-year patriarchal dictatorship as well as the upcoming spring harvest festival that is celebrated in Egypt on March 20, it seems a good time to take a look at this powerful goddess. Isis is also a goddess to consider in the wake of the 8.9 earthquake that struck Japan and the devastating tsunami that followed. Isis teaches us to grieve and re-member--to put back together that which has been lost--bringing about rebirth.
Isis was born of the sky goddess, Nut, and the earth god, Geb, and she ruled over it all--earth, sea sky and the underworld. She was known by many names: Goddess of the Universe, Life of the Nile, Goddess of the Underworld, Mother Moon. The full moon this month appears on March 19, the eve of spring, in Virgo, the Virgin. When speaking of the Virgin Goddess, the word "virgin" does not have the same meaning as it does today--in ancient times it was a term that applied to a woman who was whole unto herself and was not defined by relationship to a man. Isis was such a goddess even though she had a husband, Osiris, whom she loved dearly but lost tragically.
Isis and Osiris ruled Egypt in a fair and just way, teaching men and women the ways of civilization, of cultivation, how to irrigate the dry land from the waters of the Nile, how to grow food and weave cloth. Then one day, Osiris's jealous brother, Set, killed him so he could inherit the throne.
after she had mourned Osiris,
she made wind with her wings
and flew on her own power
around the world, in grief,
never resting until she found him.
And when she found him,
motionless and dead,
she drew out his essence
and created new life.
- Egyptian Song of Isis
During the time when Osiris was resurrected, Isis and Osiris conceived a son, Horus, the hawk-headed god and future king of Egypt. However, Set found Osiris's body once again and this time he dismembered it, cutting it into 14 pieces and hiding them throughout Egypt. Again, Isis searched every corner until she found all of his body parts except one--the phallus. This she formed out of gold and replaced.
She put him back together in mummified form--introducing the rite of embalming to the Egyptians. Then Isis fanned Osiris's body with her great golden wings and through her magical power he was revived and became Ruler of All Eternity.
The story of Isis and Osiris is the story of spring told over and over from one culture and time to another: of resurrection and rebirth. It is the story of a divine child born from the union of the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine that reside within each of us. Out of the dead, hard soil of winter, comes new life. From the dismemberment we can see that there are many parts that must be put back together again and made whole. The golden missing piece is the regenerative one, the part that when united with the sacred feminine allows us to create new life again and again.
As the days grow warmer and longer and the earth softens beneath our feet and tender shoots find their way to the surface, we feel a quickening inside: new life is stirring within and without. After much labor, I am about to birth my e-book in April, In the Lap of the Goddess: Connecting With the Sacred Feminine, A Soul Work Book.
Isis reminds us that it's never too late; that the creative force is ever present and ongoing; that our kingdom lies before us if we will but nurture and cultivate it.
She asks us:
What are you giving birth to?
What needs to be restored and made whole?
What are you feeding so that it can grow and flourish?